The Lightning Lab is the only New Zealand member of the Global Accelerator Network, an invite-only community of the world’s most respected organisations that provide start-ups with the resources to create and grow their businesses. As such, it maintains the highest standards with content based on the best practices from around the world.
STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY
The Lightning Lab XX program was set up to help tackle a lack of women starting businesses. Across the first five Lightning Lab programs, only 12 per cent of founders were women – while international reports suggest women make up just 6 per cent of business founders worldwide.
This is despite the fact that start-ups with a woman on the founding team perform on average 63 per cent better than investments with all-male founding teams, according to analysis by First Round capital.
Laura Reitel, Lightning Lab XX’s Programme Director, says this and other research suggests diverse businesses perform better and deliver higher returns.
“We believe diverse teams create stronger companies and we want to help bring more gender balance into the business community,” she says.
“We’re excited to be creating a more diverse business ecosystem for New Zealand, to encourage more creative thinking, richer discussions and, ultimately, a more productive entrepreneurial environment.
“We can only achieve this through openness and inclusiveness, and we’re delighted by the quality, commitment and ambition of the women who have put themselves forward for Lightning Lab XX.”
Lightning Lab XX gave the entrepreneurs access to 100 mentors and over 50 local and international speakers. After 100 days of programing, it showcased its nine women-led start-ups at a Demo Day.
Hosted at a packed Embassy Theatre – known previously for showcasing NZ film talent with world premieres of Lord of the Rings films – the event saw founders pitching world class business propositions to a ‘Who’s Who’ of Wellington’s start up community: over 700 investors, mentors, alumni and supporters.
Around half of the teams were pitching for investment to fund their growth ambitions and the connections they gained have led to hundreds of thousands of dollars of commitments.
Some of the teams plan to fund their ventures in different ways – one has won a grant from government agency Callaghan Innovation, while several others have been able to self-fund thanks to the sales uplift from Demo Day.
BANKING ON START-UPS
John Bennett, Commercial & Agri Regional General Manager for ANZ (which sponsors Lightning Lab XX) supports the drive to diversity.
“As bankers, we often see entrepreneurs who have great ideas but lack connections or access to expertise, guidance or inspiration to realise their potential,” he says.
“By giving them access to a wide range of world-class business coaches, mentors and role models, this program provides the environment for women founders to rise through the challenges of starting a company then enables them to get it ready for investment quickly.”
Participant Mel Langlotz, of outdoor mixed reality firm Geo AR Games, says Lightning Lab is a very intense program that “teaches you the essentials of a mini MBA in three months using your own project.”
“This is not an incubator where you go in, cash in the money and do what you like,” she says.
“This is for people who are open to relearning how to do business and doing things in a new way, no matter how long they have been working on their idea for.”